By Henry Uche, Lagos

The West Africa Broadcast & Media Academy (WABMA) in collaboration with Enugu Literary Society (ELS) with the support of the United States Consulate General, Lagos, has trained over 1000 broadcast journalists from different stations across the country.

Speaking after the training session in Lagos, the executive director of the academy, Jika Attoh, said the academy was established to fill in the critical gaps in the media space to enhance professionalism.

‘There are large gaps in orientation, practices and others in the training of journalists. So we create a platform where media practitioners are trained in different aspects like journalism, presentation, production, and online with our on-campus and online facilities,’ he said.

He charged Eko FM, Wax FM, Wazobia FM, Nigeria info and others who received some fact-checking tools to enable them to discharge professional jobs, to utilize the gesture and knowledge gained from the training to put every piece of information/ news in the public domain in the right perspective to avoid moral, emotional or societal damage caused by misinformation.

“The training is for our partner stations, some of them have received fact-checking tools to check fake news and misinformation. We want to stop the indiscriminate spread of fake news even by Media persons because it has a huge negative impact on society. Today the fact check capacity would go a long way to enable them to know exactly what they are disseminating and sharing and also enable them to disenchant and disabuse the minds of the people accordingly,” he pointed.

Also speaking, Founder, Enugu Literary Society (ELS), Ike Okere, vowed to work with like-minded academics across the country to restore literary culture in the country in order to make young Nigerians begin to love reading again for economic growth, development and sustenance.

Okere who is the Director of National Broadcast Academy (FRCN Training School, Lagos) and a trainer at the program, charged Nigerians to be wary of spreading fake news/ misinformation as such misguided act perpetuated especially by Media personnel who should know better, has devastating effects in the entire spheres of man.

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According to him, it was expedient for every media personnel across Platforms to join the army of fact-checkers, and the league of those fighting against fake news and misinformation to save the country from doom resulting from the spread of fake news and misinformation.

‘It has been said that ‘if there would be a third World war, then it would be caused by fake news’; so fake news is very insidious and spread faster now than before the advent of social media. We, therefore, expect trainees today to come up with programs (like dramas, features, commentaries, straight news or documentaries) in their different radio and TV stations geared towards not only educating the people on the dangers of fake news and misinformation but on compelling other media platforms to follow suit in the fight against fake news and misinformation.

The media expert added that since the radio medium has the largest number of followers/ audience with about 70% of the total population, it was expedient for the radio media to become vanguards of the message and vanguards in the fight against this menace. Since they are the dominant platform in the media landscape for the people since it is easier to get news through the radio than other media channels.

He called for continuous training for media professionals saying: ‘The ball is in the court of the media to reduce the spread of fake news and misinformation to the barest minimum. The Media market has exploded in the past 20 years, having over a thousand radio and TV stations in Nigeria, aside from online radio and TV, so certainly those in the media space has more but challenging tasks now than ever if we say we are the guidance of the space, we have much to do, if the country was going to burn, we can stop the country from burning by the kind of information we allow out there, so we need to get media Houses on board to bring in their audiences to onboard too,’ he charged.

On his part, the public affairs officer at the US consulate general office in Lagos, Steve Ibelli, said the consulate would not leave any stone unturned in its quest to promote media literacy, this it would do by supporting Media training such as this to enable Media persons to distinguish among facts, truth and opinions.

He added that it was high time people stopped spreading opinions that have been masquerading as facts. He urged Nigerians to pick up basic media courses for themselves to enable them to detect fake news and misinformation and make simple investigations whenever they receive any piece of the message.

‘We shall continue to promote wide varieties of journalism practice like security and defence, health and investigative reporting. It’s important for people to have basic knowledge on fact-checking to avoid unavailable damage arising from fake news and misinformation,’ he added.

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Source: news